Collins forced out of date in Cyprus

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The Independent Online

Wales have been hit by the late withdrawal of the defender James Collins from their squad for Wednesday's friendly international in Cyprus.

The West Ham defender reported to the Wales team hotel near Heathrow to be examined by the team doctor, and was immediately ruled out with a calf injury. It is a bitter blow for Collins, who has yet to figure in a Premiership game this season since his summer move from Cardiff.

The Wales manager John Toshack has warned both Collins and West Bromwich Albion's Robert Earnshaw that their lack of regular match practice could eventually jeopardise their place in the Wales squad.

With Bristol City's David Partridge already ruled out following a leg muscle injury picked up after just 18 minutes of the defeat by Swindon on Friday, it means that Toshack has defensive problems for the match in Limassol. That meant a late call-up for the Cardiff City defender Rhys Weston, but it is too late to replace Collins, with the team due to fly out from Heathrow early tomorrow morning.

But Toshack does have Coventry City's Richard Duffy and Aston Villa's Mark Delaney, who can both play in the centre of defence in an emergency.

A Football Association of Wales spokesman said: "Nobody else will be called in at this late stage. James arrived at the hotel at about 7pm and that hasn't given us much time to do anything about it."

Wales have already lost the Cardiff pair Jason Koumas (groin) and Joe Ledley (ankle), while the Under-21s have been hit by the withdrawals of the Swansea City midfielder Owain Tudur-Jones and Mansfield Town's Mark Birchall.

That has meant a first call-up for Lloyd James, the Southampton central midfielder. Wrexham's Matthew Crowell has also been added to a squad that has flown out to Cyprus.

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